Coconut joins the growing ranks of vegan leather feedstocks

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In India, a product designer and a researcher have teamed up to develop vegan leather based on discarded coconut water fiber.

Dubbbed Malai, Susmith Suseelan says the material is made by collecting and sterilizing coconut water, which is then used fermented by bacterial culture. The coconut water is procured from a coconut processing plant in Kerala, India.

The water “is of no use in the industry,” says material researcher Zuzana Gombosva. “[Coconut water] serves as the raw material for making bacterial cellulose. It was after trying around 150 different formulations that we finally got close to what we wanted to create—a new sustainable and eco-friendly product that can be used commercially.”

Vegan leather is increasing in popularity. Hugo Boss recently introduced a line of vegan leather shoes made from pineapple. Mushrooms and recycled plastic bottles have also been used to produce leather-like alternatives.